Sunday, 12 June 2011

Golden Rain & Green Grass of Home

Ever since I left to work overseas, meeting other Malaysians has been a much sought-after activity. Apart from the usual attraction of widening the social circle, I find it very intriguing to see how much people have changed. Amidst the friendly banter, one of us would innocently drop the seemingly innocuous question: “Are you going back to Malaysia?”

There was a time when the brain drain was hardly a pressing issue. It was an era where the supply of talent clearly exceeded the associated demand. But times have changed. Probably for the first time ever we have had substantial facts and figures on Malaysia’s brain drain – and it has taken the World Bank to come out with this .The World Bank simply defines brain drain as the migration of talent across borders. It is instructive what it says.

In fact, it warranted a chapter in the latest World Bank Report, which proceeded to suggest that the previous estimates of the number of Malaysian “diaspora” were probably on the low side, and that perhaps as many as 1.4 million Malaysians are currently working abroad.

In light of the ominous brain drain, there is a little hope of us becoming a developed nation by 2020. Companies have long complained about a shortage of skilled labour in Malaysia, and economists say it is severely affecting the country’s ability to attract more high-technology industries. The government is acutely aware of the shortage in skills and the potential hurdle it poses to the country’s 2020 goal.

Because of the constructed connection between brain drain and patriotism, laced behind the harmless question of “Are you going back to Malaysia?”

I don’t think anybody can fault me or consider me as a “traitor” to the country. In fact, when viewed objectively, we are now all global citizens, and it shouldn’t matter very much where we live and work.

Leaving Malaysia don’t mean that I am not contributing to towards the country, I am simply promoting Malaysia have a lot of good talent and potential that can be exploit.

In a time where human capital carries additionally gravity, a nation should increasingly focus on policies that will tap the talent of its citizens irrespective of their geographical locations. Concerted effort should be invested in actively engaging Malaysians abroad, knowing that they might have insight and networks that might be of great benefit to the nation in some other time.

However, despite a multitude of reasons why Malaysians leave the country of their birth, the truth is that many do return at some point, even if it’s only for a few years.

They’re coming back to an environment that they are familiar with, and the comfort of happy memories. Perhaps patriotism doesn’t make objective sense, but nostalgia is a strange magnet. On hindsight, the grass you left behind is always greener. 

Perhaps the most patriotic thing of all is to bring a bit of Malaysia with you wherever you go and never leave it behind – even if those back home believe otherwise. 

Note:- E.T Call Home

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